Slow Cooker Smothered Pork Chops

I found this recipe for smothered pork chops in The Best Slow & Easy Recipes: A Best Recipe Classic which I just picked up from the library(there is a video of the episode here). I find their cookbooks and shows are great, as they give you a lot of tips and tricks for improving recipes, and why they work – a lot of times the information applies to other recipes as well. I’ll be trying a few more recipes from the book in the next few weeks.

I did change the recipe a bit to suit what I had on hand. The original included bacon which I am always an advocate of, but sadly all I had was some reserved bacon fat, which I made good use of!

Slow Cooker Smothered Pork Chops
6 pork chops (recommended bone-in blade-cut pork chops, about 3/4″ thick) I could only find a mixed pack of bone-in loin and rib chops – I think bone in is important for this recipe, for flavour
oil or reserved bacon fat
8 -10 mushrooms, finely chopped
1 large carrot diced small
3 onions, quartered and thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons arrowroot flour (I didn’t have cornstarch, they call for 1 tablespoon cornstarch, use that if you have it!)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Pour 2 cups of broth, thyme, soy sauce, bay leaves, pepper, and thickener (cornstarch or arrowroot flour) into slow cooker, and whisk to combine.chops 001

Heat a skillet over medium high heat, and melt bacon fat until shimmering. Brown chops (only 3 at a time fit in my pan) and set aside on a plate.chops 002If necessary add more fat/oil to pan, then  add chopped mushrooms and fry until they start to get golden brown. Throw in carrot and continue to saute for a few minutes.  chops 003Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker broth mixture.

Again, add additional fat/oil if necessary then add onions, 1 tablespoon brown sugar.  Cook over medium-high heat until onions are soft, about 6 minutes. (forgot to take fried onion picture, they were lovely, nice dark golden brown colour!) Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer. Transfer the onion mixture to slow cooker.chops 005Pour remaining one cup of broth into skillet and scrape up any brown bits from the pan, simmer for a few minutes, then add to slow cooker.chops 004

Place chops and any accumulated juices into slow cooker, chops 006being sure to cover with some of the vegetable mixture. chops 007Cook on low until pork is very tender, about 8 hours (or cook on high for 4 hours).

At the end of the cooking time, remove the chops and skim the fat off the top of the sauce, or, as I did, just use a shallow spoon and over the last hour or so of cooking gently lower the spoon and allow fat to drain into it and discard.   Then, add one tablespoon of cider vinegar to the sauce (this really added that certain something!).

There was quite a bit of fat to remove, but it was quite easy to do – even easier would be to remove chops, refrigerate sauce, and remove fat when solid – the next day will probably only make the dish tastier.

This was delicious!  The pork was fork tender and the sauce sooo yummy.  chops 008chops 009

Served with brown rice and sauteed brussel sprouts.

Slow Cooker Beans and Barley

I wanted to make an easy side dish, and this recipe fit what was hanging around in my pantry.  It is based on sever Red Beans and Barley recipes I found online, but I’ve made it less tomato-ey by draining out the canned tomatoes very well.

1 cup uncooked, rinsed pot barley (not pearled)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots diced
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 t red pepper flakes, crushed
15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed
28 oz can diced tomatoes, drained well
2 piece bay leaf
3 3/4 cups broth + 1/4 soy sauce
pepper and thyme to taste

Saute the onion, carrot and garlic until softened.

barley 002 Pour some of the broth into the saute pan to lift any flavour out of the skillet.barley 003

Add all remaining ingredients to the slow cooker, barley 001and cook for 7 hours on low.
barley 004

This recipe smelled delicious the whole time it was cooking – it actually kind of smelled like it was cooked with red wine – I think it was the broth/soy/tomato combination that did that.  The next time I would definitely reduce the broth by one cup.  You can always add more broth , but its hard to reduce without affecting the dish!  Still it seems a nice creamy rich texture and very healthy too!  I will work on this recipe and report back – like to get it down to a sort of rice pilaf consistency.

salmon 003

Slow Roasted Pork Tenderloin

I found this recipe for slow roasted pork, and the technique looked so interesting I had to try it!

Slow Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Pork tenderloin (aprx 3/4 lb?)
3 tablespoons seasoning mix (I use a blend of smoked sweet paprika, thyme, sage, garlic powder, salt and pepper)
8 -10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped

Rub the seasoning mix all over the tenderloin and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.

Preheat the oven and cast iron skillet to 500’F .

Remove skillet from oven and add a few teaspoons of oil, place tenderloin in skillet, and dump onions and garlic in around the tenderloin.  pork 001

Roast the tenderloin for about 8 minutes, then flip the tenderloin and continue to roast for a total of 15 minutes.  pork 003

Turn off oven but do not open door.  Allow roast to sit in the oven and continue to cook – internal temperature should be about 145’F, probably 40-45 minutes depending on the size of your meat.pork 004

I left it for 45 minutes, next time if the meat was the same size I’d try less, maybe 35 – 40 minutes – it stayed beautifully moist however, though there was no pinkish tinge left in the meat.pork 006

I did some baby carrots in brown sugar and butter in the oven at the same time, and they cooked perfectly as well.

Served with carrots, mashed potatoes and a pan sauce (broth, drippings and some arrowroot to thicken)pork 005 and it was a great meal – definitely the first time I’ve managed a tenderloin that didn’t dry out!pork 007